“Eat Sleep Lift Repeat”
Not a whole lot of room in there for social interaction, is there?
If you browse around bodybuilding forums (especially the misc—you know who you are), or meet guys in real life that take lifting seriously, you’ll find there are a lot of introverts.
Why is this? Why does the bodybuilding and lifting subculture attract so many introverts?
I have a few ideas:
Introverts are solitary
Everyone knows you can’t have a good workout if you’re talking to your friend the whole time. Watch any guys in the gym who are in really good shape, and you’ll see that they mostly come by themselves.
If you take your lifting fairly seriously then it’s going to be difficult to find someone whose schedule matches up with yours every single time anyway. Even if you do have a solid lifting buddy (which can be invaluable, especially if you’re just starting out), you talk on the way to the gym and then spot each other and that’s pretty much it.
The lifestyle outside of the gym is solitary as well. You cook your food by yourself, you often eat by yourself, you stretch and foam roll by yourself.
Watch this video of Kai Greene. If it weren’t for the camera crew and the magazine photo shoot, he would be alone 90% of the time.
Introverts are self-reliant
At the core of bodybuilding is the principle of self-reliance. If you want to be big/strong/lean/whatever then you are 100% responsible for accomplishing this and no one is going to do it for you. There are no team members to pick up the slack or cover for your lack of discipline. Everything’s on you; you suffer the consequences of your actions every single time and there’s no escaping it.
At the same time, there aren’t any team members that you have to pick the slack up for either. All of the failure is on you, but so is the success. You reap what you sow; you get out exactly what you put in. Results depend on the self-reliance of the individual and often that suits us introverts.
Introverts are/were uncool or unpopular
Introverts often grow up with worse social skills than the average person, or at least a set of social skills that don’t work well in an extroverted world. Lack of social skills and a preference for being alone translates into being uncool or unpopular at school, and this often means being bad with girls.
So these kids (I know because I was one) then turn to lifting weights as a way to become more attractive. They think that becoming muscular will make girls (and people in general) like them better.
While this is true to some extent, introverted and socially shy kids often overestimate how much of a difference it will actually make. While being jacked will make you somewhat more liked, it would probably be better to just spend some time learning to be more social.
Introverts value self knowledge
Beyond certain fundamentals, gaining muscle and losing fat varies quite a bit between individuals and knowledge of self is absolutely crucial for long term bodybuilding success. Everyone responds differently to stimulus because everyone is different.
After the first couple of years, most of your progress will depend on experimenting in the gym and in the kitchen and figuring out what works best for you. The nice thing is that once you do figure these things out, it becomes much easier to make progress.
For example, I know that I can’t train fasted. I feel flat, weak, and don’t have good workouts. I also know that I can’t gain weight on IF, because it’s nearly impossible for me to eat enough food inside the 8 hour window.
I time my rest periods based on how my body feels (while still having high intensity workouts), and I know that IIFYM is bullshit (at least it is for me). I need to spend 20-30 minutes warming up if I’m doing heavy pressing because I have unstable shoulder joints.
All of these things are important to consider (for me) and take a lot of trial and error to figure out. Introversion and introspection go hand in hand, and if you want success in the gym then you’re going to need knowledge of self to go along with it.
More on Introversion
- 10 Tips for INTJ Personality Types
- Here’s how to be more social as an introvert
- INTJs & Social Anxiety (Social Anxiety Solutions Revisited)
What do you think? Are you an introvert who likes lifting or working out? Why are we attracted to this stuff? Am I right, or is it something completely different? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.